Vaccines like the JNJ vaccine will eventually give us our lives back. But for now, they do not signal the end of the pandemic. Not yet.
The latest research from both the Imperial College of London and the University of East Anglia give us a sober analysis.
Researchers warned vaccination alone might not be enough to get us to herd immunity.
What could derail attempts to reach herd immunity? A combination of imperfect vaccine efficacy, a lack of enough people getting vaccinated, and super-infectious variants.
I’d like to expand on that third factor the researchers cited.
My big worry is this. Countries with poorly controlled virus spread could be acting as a real-life laboratory where dangerous new variants are created. Already, the South African variant is proving to be a tough one to control.
The key genetic mutation in that variant has been seen elsewhere, in both Brazil and California. The mutation has been linked to the surge in California, where 3 million cases have been recorded.
Here is what some scientists think is happening . . . The first virus wave produced lots of people with antibodies. But these antibodies then gradually declined over time.
In the second wave, some previously infected individuals re-encountered the virus. But they lacked sufficiently potent immunity from antibodies to prevent reinfection. Or to kill the virus quickly. Instead, the virus lingered and mutated.
This will continue to occur until we get serious and decide to go all out to stop it. Going all out means masking, social distancing, etc., until enough people get vaccinated to reach herd immunity.
The Big News
Virus Cases Are Finally Dropping
Finally, some good news on the virus front in the U.S. New cases have fallen 35% over the past three weeks. Hospitalizations have dropped, as well. Deaths have not yet. But they have stabilized. Remember that the death trend typically lags the cases trend by several weeks.
More Evidence the South African Variant Is a Big Problem
The monoclonal antibody treatment from Eli Lilly is powerless against the South African variant. This is according to a new study posted online on Tuesday. In addition, one of two monoclonal antibodies in a cocktail treatment made by Regeneron also is significantly less effective against that variant, although the combination still works, researchers at Columbia University reported.
JNJ Vaccine: 100 Million Vaccine Doses
Johnson & Johnson said it is on track to meet its target of 100 million JNJ vaccine doses for the U.S. by the end of June. The JNJ vaccine trial is crucial. The JNJ vaccine is being closely watched as it has the potential to produce a third vaccine for the U.S. The company said Tuesday that it expects results from its Phase 3 trial on the J&J vaccine “by early next week.”
Europe’s Vaccine Shortage
Europe continues to deal with a vaccine shortfall. Spain became the first E.U. country to partly suspend immunizations because of a lack of vaccine doses. One Spanish public health official told the media, “Tomorrow our fridges will be empty.” Needless to say, the European public is furious and demanding answers from leaders.
Oklahoma Wasted Taxpayer Money
Talk about government waste. Oklahoma is still trying to unload a $2 million stockpile of the antimalarial drug promoted as a Covid miracle cure,” hydroxychloroquine. Oklahoma followed the politics and not the science when it made the purchase last spring. There is a lack of evidence that the drug had any effect on the virus. And it can be harmful to people with high blood pressure.
The Coronavirus Numbers
Here are the numbers from Thursday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:
- 100,977,927 Infected Worldwide
- 2,177,418 Deaths
- 25,599,961 Infected in the U.S.
- 429,178 Deaths in the U.S.
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U.S. stocks notched their worst day of the year on Wednesday. Losses accelerated as Fed chair Jerome Powell painted a gloomy picture of the economy.
The benchmark S&P 500 closed lower by nearly 3%. That was its largest drop since October.
Yesterday’s triple-header of powerhouse earnings from Tesla, Apple and Facebook turned out to be a dud. All three stocks fizzled after companies released results. Here are the highlights:
- Apple recorded quarterly revenue of more than $100 billion for the first time ever. It was propelled by sales of its new iPhone.
- Tesla reported its first full-year profit ever. It was a feat 18 years in the making. But it was less than analysts were expecting.
- Facebook reported fourth-quarter sales up more than 30%. The profit of $11.2 billion was up more than 50%. Its platforms now have more than 3.3 billion regular monthly users, a new high.
The Reddit WSB (WallStreetBets) bubble continues to inflate. It has gotten to the point where some hedge funds are now following what these novice retail traders are doing.
One fund manager was quoted as saying, “Nobody cares if you’re [companies are] profitable these days. Who are you, Graham and Dodd?”
Benjamin Graham and David Dodd were pioneers in using P/E ratios to find stocks undervalued by the market. Their book, Security Analysis, was Warren Buffett’s “bible” on how to invest.
Yours in Health & Wealth,